OAKLAND — Nothing about Ryon Healy’s pregame demeanor suggested he was in for a big afternoon.
The A’s young slugger described himself as especially “grumpy” while taking his morning swings in the batting cage with assistant hitting coach Marcus Jensen.
A few hours later, Healy was in a much cheerier mood while discussing his third multi-homer game of June. That headlined Oakland’s 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees on a sun-drenched afternoon at the Coliseum.
“Marcus, on the walk back up (to the clubhouse afterward) he was laughing saying, ‘All that fuss you did in the cage and you go out and have a day like that?’ Healy explained. “I said, ‘I’ve got to get it out of my system. I’d rather do it before the game than during it.’”
Healy’s 16th and 17th homers helped propel the A’s to their third consecutive win over the Yankees. They can finish off a four-game sweep Sunday, but they’ve already won the season series for the fourth time in the past five years against New York.
This weekend also continues a season-long pattern for the A’s:
Dominance on their home field (a 21-13 record) coupled with their extreme struggles on the road, where they are 9-25.
One couldn’t blame the A’s for feeling like this weekend’s series is being played on the road. They’ve drawn crowds of 30,000-plus each of the past two games, but a large portion in the stands is wearing Yankee pinstripes. And much like a May series in which the A’s took three of four from Boston before a heavy Red Sox fan contingent, playing well in this series has to be extra gratifying.
In fairness, the home fans are making a lot of noise this weekend too, and the A’s are giving them lots of motivation.
Besides the big days from Healy and leadoff man Matt Joyce, who homered and reached base five times, Oakland’s pitching held the Yankees to five hits. Jesse Hahn (3-4) gave up just three hits over five innings, but he ran his pitch count to 105, leaving a lot of work for a bullpen that was short-handed.
Liam Hendriks, Josh Smith, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle combined for four scoreless innings, six strikeouts and no walks. Smith, a right-hander who usually has been called upon for mop-up duty, earned praise from manager Bob Melvin for his work in a 1-2-3 seventh.
“It was awesome to see the way we pieced it together today and have each guy come in and feed off the guy’s performance before,” Doolittle said of the relief corps. “There’s a lot of confidence for us down there.”
Healy continues to impress in his first full major league season, to the point where Doolittle claimed “you could put him in the All-Star conversation.” It’s not so far-fetched.
Riding a 21-for-56 stretch over his past 14 games, Healy has boosted his overall average to .288. He’s tied Yonder Alonso and Khris Davis for the team home run lead at 17, and his 42 RBI are just one behind Davis.
“He went through a considerable struggle at one point in time this year too, and he made the adjustment,” Melvin said. “That’s what the really good hitters do. … He’s a premier guy.”
Earlier this season, Healy said he hadn’t found his true comfort zone at the plate despite compiling numbers that would suggest otherwise. He maintains that position now, which could explain the batting cage grumpiness.
“I still think it’s getting there,” Healy said. “I’m not satisfied with the consistency of it. There are things I’m not doing well enough on a day-to-day basis.”
The things he’s doing right now suit the A’s just fine.